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Re: St. John Chrysostom on Salvation by Faith Alone?

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  • solascriptura1971
    Randy, Thanks for the quotes. I will have to mull over them some more. It definitely seems like the Orthodox teaching is that while it is true we are saved by
    Message 1 of 68 , Nov 22, 2008
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      Thanks for the quotes. I will have to mull over them some more. It
      definitely seems like the Orthodox teaching is that while it is true
      we are saved by God's grace, at the same time our "virtues" and free-
      will come into play in our salvation as well, which I'm finding
      difficult reconciling with Eph. 2:8-9:

      "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not
      from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one
      can boast."

      If God chooses some based on their worthiness, virtues, or fore-
      knowing that they would accept Him, then it would appear that, in
      some manner, there would be room for boasting as to why they were
      chosen to be saved and others weren't.

      In Christ,

      --- In LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com, randall hay
      <stortford@...> wrote:
      > I would say Anastasia wrote a wonderful paragraph about how we are
      > saved only by grace....in mathematical terms, to quote Bp Kallistos
      > Ware, we contribute 0%. In his commentary on Romans, St. John
      > Chrysostom puts it beautifully: "To give thee the crown in His;
      to it
      > is thine to hold it fast when it is given." (Homily 13, p. 433.
      > Please note that the website has an index to find the passage from
      > page in the actual book.)
      > However, that being said, why isn't everybody saved? Not because
      > whimsical predestination. Rather, God foresees those whose will
      has a little
      > spark to follow Him. Yes, the Orthodox believe in free will...when
      > Jesus took a complete human nature, He made its will (along with
      > everything else human) capable of conforming itself to God.
      > Hence "predestination" is based on foreknowledge of what our free
      > wills choose. But neither our faith nor works count for anything;
      > must ascribe all to Him. He gives us the crown, we must hold
      > I'll paste some passages from his writings below, if that helps.
      > One thing is that Chrysostom is not so terribly focused on the act
      > justification in particular....since neither is Scripture. It's
      > certainly, but what we should do after baptism and renouncing
      Satan is
      > a great part of it.
      > In Christ,
      > Randy
      > ROMANS
      > from Homily 16
      > ...This was a sign of foreknowledge, that [Jacob and Esau] were
      > from the very birth. That the election made according to
      > might be manifestly of God, from the first day He at once saw and
      > proclaimed which was good and which not...
      > He that knoweth how to assay the soul, knoweth which is worthy
      > being saved. Yield then to the incomprehensibleness of the
      > For it is He alone Who knoweth how to crown aright. How many, for
      > instance, seemed better than St. Matthew; to go by the exhibition
      > works then visible. But He that knoweth things undeclared, and is
      > to assay the mind's aptitude, knew the pearl though lying in the
      > and after passing by others, and being well pleased with the
      beauty of
      > this, He elected it, and by adding to the noble born free-will
      > from Himself, He made it approved. For if in the case of these arts
      > which are perishable, and indeed in other matters, those that are
      > judges do not use the grounds on which the uninstructed form their
      > decision, in selecting out of what is put before them; but from
      > which they are themselves well aware of, they many times disparage
      > which the uninstructed approve, and decide upon what they
      > For it is not a mere exhibition of works that God searcheth
      > but a nobleness of choice and an obedient temper (gnomie)
      > "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have
      > compassion on whom I will have compassion." (Ex. xxxiii. 19:
      > context.) For it is not thine to know, O Moses, he means, which are
      > deserving of My love toward man, but leave this to Me. But if
      Moses had
      > no right to know, much less have we" (p. 466).
      > Ver. 20. "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against
      > This he does to take down the objector's unseasonable
      > inquisitiveness, and excessive curiosity, and to put a check upon
      > and teach him to know what God is, and what man, and how
      > incomprehensible His foreknowledge is, and how far above our
      > and how obedience to Him in all points is binding.
      > Here it is not to do away with free-will that he says this,
      but to
      > show, up to what point we ought to obey God. For in respect of
      > God to account, we ought to be as little disposed to it as the
      clay is.
      > For we ought to abstain not from gainsaying or questioning only,
      > even from speaking or thinking of it at all, and to become like
      > lifeless matter, which followeth the potter's hands, and lets
      itself be
      > drawn about anywhere he may please. And this is the only point he
      > applied the illustration to, not, that is, to any enunciation of
      > rule of life, but to the complete obedience and silence enforced
      > us.
      > And this we ought to observe in all cases, that we are not to
      > the illustrations quite entire, but after selecting the good of
      > and that for which they were introduced, to let the rest alone.
      As, for
      > instance, when he says, "He couched, he lay down as a lion;" (Numb.
      > xxiv. 9) let us take out the indomitable and fearful part, not the
      > brutality, nor any other of the things belonging to a lion. And
      > when He says, "I will meet them as a bereaved bear" (Hos. xiii.
      8), let
      > us take the vindictiveness. And when he says, "our God is a
      > fire" (Deut. iv. 24; and Heb. xii. 29), the wasting power exerted
      > punishing (p. 467).
      > And when he does go on to say, "Hath not the potter power over
      > clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another
      > dishonor?" do not suppose that this is said by Paul as an account
      > the creation, nor as implying a necessity over the will, but to
      > illustrate the sovereignty and difference of dispensations; for if
      > do not take it in this way, divers incongruities will follow, for
      > here he were speaking about the will, and those who are good and
      > not so, He will be Himself the Maker of these, and man will be free
      > from all responsibility. And at this rate, Paul will also be
      shown to
      > be at variance with himself, as he always bestows chief honor upon
      > choice. There is nothing else then which he here wishes to do,
      save to
      > persuade the hearer to yield entirely to God, and at no time to
      > Him to account for anything whatever.
      > "He endured him with much long-suffering," being willing to
      > him to repentance. For had He not willed this, then He would not
      > been thus long-suffering. But as he would not use the long-
      suffering in
      > order to repentance, but fully fitted himself for wrath, He used
      > for the correction of others, through the punishment inflicted
      upon him
      > making them better, and in this way setting forth His power. For
      > it is not God's wish that His power be so made known, but in
      > way, by His benefits, namely, and kindnesses, he had shown above
      in all
      > possible ways.
      > But in saying, "which He had afore prepared unto glory," he
      > not mean that all is God's doing. Since if this were so, there were
      > nothing to hinder all men from being saved. But he is setting forth
      > again His foreknowledge (p. 468)...
      > ...When he says, "it is not of him that willeth, nor of him
      > runneth," he does not deprive us of free-will, but shows that all
      > not one's own, for that it requires grace from above. For it is
      > on us to will, and also to run: but to confide not in our own
      > but in the love of God toward man.
      > Whence then are some vessels of wrath, and some of mercy? Of
      > own free choice. God, however, being very good, shows the same
      > to both. For it was not those in a state of salvation only to whom
      > showed mercy, but also Pharaoh, as far as His part went (p. 469).
      > Why then are you troubled, as though the promise had failed,
      > all the Prophets show that it is not all that are to be saved (p.
      > Ver. 32. "Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were
      by the works of the Law."
      > This is the clearest answer in the passage, which if he had said
      > immediately upon starting, he would not have gained so easy a
      > But since it is after many perplexities, and preparations, and
      > demonstrations that he sets it down, and after using countless
      > preparatory steps, he has at last made it more intelligible, and
      > more easily admitted. For this he says is the cause of their
      > destruction: "Because it was not by faith, but as it were by the
      > of the Law," that they wished to be justified (p. 471).
      > From Homily 18
      > Ver. 5. "Even so then at this present time also, there is a
      > remnant according to the election of grace." For he shows here
      that it
      > is the worthy that God useth to save even if the promise be made
      to the
      > whole nation.
      > ...By saying election, he showed the approval of them, but by
      saying grace, he showed the gift of God (p. 483).
      > from Homily 1
      > That you may not then, when you hear that "He hath chosen us,"
      > that faith alone is sufficient, he proceeds to add life and
      conduct. To
      > this end, saith he, hath He chosen us, and on this
      condition, "that we
      > should be holy and without blemish" (p. 51).
      > For by all means would he have chosen those who were approved. He
      > Himself rendered us holy, but then we must continue holy (p. 51).
      > "In love," saith he, "having predestinated us." Because this comes
      > of any pains, nor of any good works of ours, but of love; and yet
      > of love alone, but of our virtue also. For if indeed of love
      alone, it
      > would follow that all must be saved; whereas again were it the
      > of our virtue alone, then were His coming needless, and the whole
      > dispensation. But it is the result neither of His love alone, nor
      > of our virtue, but of both. "He chose us," saith the Apostle; and
      > that chooseth, knoweth what it is that He chooseth. "In love," he
      > "having foreordained us;" for virtue would never have saved any
      > had there not been love. For tell me, what would Paul have
      > how would he have exhibited what he has exhibited, if God had not
      > called him from the beginning, and, in that He loved him, drawn
      him to
      > Himself? But besides, His vouchsafing us so great privileges, was
      > effect of His love, not of our virtue. Because our being rendered
      > virtuous, and believing, and coming nigh unto Him, even this again
      > the work of Him that called us Himself, and yet, notwithstanding,
      it is
      > ours also (pp. 51-2).
      > Do you observe how that nothing is done without Christ? Nothing
      > the Father? The one hath predestinated, the other hath brought us
      > (p. 52).
      > Ver. 5. "According to the good pleasure," he continues, "of His
      > That is to say, because He earnestly willed it. This is, as one
      > might say, His earnest desire. For the word "good pleasure" every
      > where means the precedent will, for there is also another will. As
      > example, the first will is that sinners should not perish; the
      > will is, that, if men become wicked, they shall perish. For surely
      > is not by necessity that He punishes them, but because He wills it
      > 52).
      > ...He points out the origination, the purpose, the will, the first
      > intention, as proceeding from the Father, and the fulfillment and
      > execution as effected by the agency of the Son...
      > Just in the very beginning of the Epistle, he used the
      > "through the will of the Father." The Father, he means, willed,
      the Son
      > wrought. But neither does it follow, that because the Father
      > the Son is excluded from the willing; nor because the Son wrought,
      > the Father is deprived of the working. But to the Father and the
      > all things are common. "For all Mine are Thine," saith He, "and
      > are Mine." (John xvii. 10.)
      > ________________________________
      > From: solascriptura1971 <no_reply@yahoogroups.com>
      > To: LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com
      > Sent: Saturday, November 22, 2008 1:48:17 AM
      > Subject: [LutheransLookingEast] Re: St. John Chrysostom on
      Salvation by Faith Alone?
      > Now both of these paragraphs looks "Lutheran" to me. Maybe I'm
      > sleepy!
      > Bobby
      > --- In LutheransLookingEas t@yahoogroups. com, "Anastasia
      > <anastasiatheo01@ ...> wrote:
      > >
      > > Another way to say it might be that God doesn't save us *in
      > response* to either our works or our faith. He saves us because
      > wills to save us, period - without first being (or needing to be)
      > impressed or won over by anything about us. There is no way we
      > influence Him to save us, because He already wills to do it, from
      > before He ever created us. Because He LOVES us.
      > >
      > > But He saves us in and through our active faith-based
      > to Him. By faith we believe. By faith we commit ourselves to
      > By faith we take up our crosses and follow Him. By faith live, by
      > faith we die, by faith we know that we shall rise again. Faith is
      > what makes the unseen things (e.g., general resurrection) evident
      > us, and the things hoped for, already present to us. Faith is
      > (current) hypostasis, or being.
      > >
      > > Anastasia
      > > e-mail: anastasiatheo01@ ...
      > > blog: http://anastasias- corner.blogspot. com
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • randall hay
      Bobby, I recalled a couple of questions you d had, then looked back and found them in this e-mail. Orthodox believe that the sacraments and the gospel are
      Message 68 of 68 , Nov 29, 2008
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        Bobby, I recalled a couple of questions you'd had, then looked back and found them in this e-mail.

        Orthodox believe that the sacraments and the gospel are generally necessary for salvation.

        We see grace as God coming to us Himself, not something created He gives us (as Catholics believe; you hear them speak of "getting graces"). We see that outpouring of Himself as union with Him, the greatest goal and joy of His creatures. It is His good pleasure to give us that blessing.

        Of course, if you are not able to receive the sacraments (perhaps you die before you are able), or if you are not able to intellectually receive the gospel (for example, babies, retarded people or demented elderly) that is an exception. God doesn't hold it against you if are unable.

        I might add that the piety associated with the sacraments is quite high. For example, all ORthodox are encouraged to say a set of prayers that takes at least an hour before receiving Communion, and must fast from midnight (except for medical reasons) and have confessed "recently."

        If any of His blood is spilled on the floor during liturgy, it is burned. If it spills on a rug the rug is burned; if it spills on tile, you pour a bit of alcohol on and burn it, saying prayers. (Normally you don't give Communion over a carpet for obvious reasons!) No one but a priest, deacon or bishop may touch the altar at any time. We subdeacons are rarely able to touch an object that is sitting on the altar. If you have any sins against anyone on your conscience, you must apologize to the person before receiving Eucharist.

        In baptism you are exorcised, the water is exorcised, and you literally (not figuratively) spit on the devil. You wear a baptismal garment at services then for 40 days, at least in Slavic tradition.

        There are frequent references in Scripture to the "energies" of God. (The Greek term is "energeia.") Comes up something like 40 times in the New Testament, as I recall. This is GOd present in dealing with His creation. It is not His essence, which is incomprehensible, but His actions toward us; how He reveals Himself to His creatures.

        We humans have energies, too. Our body/soul/spirit is our essence; how we move and think and interact with people and things, what we do, is our "energies."

        Roman Catholics hold that God's energies, like His graces, are created things. We ORthodox believe that He Himself is wholly present in His energies; He deals with His creation very directly and personally.

        "As Thou, Father, art in me," Jesus says, "and I in Thee," He prays "that they also may be in us." John 17:20

        It's a bit difficult for us to grasp....however, the Greek term "energeia" predated the New Testament for centuries, and back then the people understood basically what it signified.

        St Gregory Palamas is the saint most associated with the theology of the energies of God.

        Anyhow, hope this helps a bit---


        From: solascriptura1971 <no_reply@yahoogroups.com>
        To: LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Friday, November 28, 2008 2:48:20 AM
        Subject: [LutheransLookingEast] Relationship of Free-will, Energies, and the Means of Grace

        Randy et al,

        Thanks, yep, I'm lacking in biblical Greek. That is interesting
        about the word occuring in the New Testament.

        I was just reading an article
        (http://www.orthodox info.com/ inquirers/ non-orthodox_ ch2.pdf) where
        it discusses this in more detail. In it he has a quote from (yes,
        you guessed it) St. John Chrysostom:

        "If He "lighteth every man that cometh into the world," how is it
        that so many continue
        unenlightened? For not all have known the majesty of Christ. How
        then doth He "light
        every man"? He lighteth all as far as in Him lies. But if some,
        willfully closing the eyes
        of their mind, would not receive the rays of that Light, their
        darkness arises not from the
        nature of the Light, but from their own wickedness, who willfully
        deprive themselves of
        the gift. For the grace is shed forth upon all, turning itself back
        neither from Jew, nor Greek,
        nor Barbarian, nor Scythian, nor free, nor bond, nor male, nor
        female, nor old, nor
        young, but admitting all alike, and inviting with an equal regard.
        And those who are
        not willing to enjoy this gift, ought in justice to impute their
        blindness to themselves; for
        if when the gate is opened to all, and there is none to hinder, any
        being willfully evil
        remain without, they perish through none other, but only through
        their own

        Someone mentioned to me earlier on this board that the problem I'm
        having may be that I don't understand the difference between East
        and West with respect to the Uncreated Energy (grace) of God acting
        everywhere. Anyways, this article reminded me of that. I guess I
        need to bear that in mind.

        Also, another side issue popped up reading that quote from St. John
        above. He makes it sound as if the means of grace, the Word and
        Sacraments, are not necessary in order for one to come to salvation.
        Is this true? If so, how does this relate to Romans 10 where St.
        Paul appears to state that it is necessary for one to encounter/hear
        the Gospel message in order to be saved?

        Thanks a lot for your help.

        We had a good Thanksgiving and hope you and your family did as well.

        In Christ,

        --- In LutheransLookingEas t@yahoogroups. com, randall hay
        <stortford@. ..> wrote:
        > Bobby, I feel constrained to point out that "synergy" is commanded
        by the apostles. I don't know what your knowledge is of biblical
        Greek, but "syn" means 'with' and "ergon" means 'work.' I Cor
        3:9: "we are God's synergists." 2 Cor 6:1: "synergizing with Him,
        we beseech you not to accept the grace of God in vain." St Paul
        lauds Timothy, in fact, as "synergist of God" in I Thes 3:2.
        > If we are saved without any movement of the will toward God, it
        means He damns many people by not saving them. This is not the God
        of love!
        > And if our wills are completely helpless, then we're not really at
        fault for sinning because we couldn't help it. This is not the God
        of justice!
        > And if we are helpless in the face of sin, we aren't really in His
        image....everything created by Him is not good (which doesn't jibe
        with I Tim 4:4). This is not the good Creator!
        > In the Parable of the Sower, we see that humans reject the Gospel
        because "seeing they don't see." They are at fault. God gave us
        eyes; the problem is that we don't see with them.
        > At any rate, His blessings upon you, and I hope you have a
        wonderful Thanksgiving- ---
        > In Christ,
        > Randy

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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